This past October 9th, the Nobel Committee announced the winner of its 2009 Peace Prize. It was bestowed on the president of the United States, Barack Obama. A little less than one year after his election, Obama saw himself decorated with one of the most prestigious titles in the world. For which actions? None, yet. Obama himself recognized that this prize symbolized rather a “call to action.”
The Nobel Committee justified the choice of Obama by pointing to the return of multilateral diplomacy, as well as his efforts for a world free of nuclear arms. That the simple fact of breaking with the conservative attitude of the Bush administration merits a Nobel Prize says much about the foreign policy of the eight years of Republican reign (2001-2009).
Effectively, numerous indices indicate a warming of international relations, compared to what they used to be. We have only to think of the speech Obama made in Cairo to the Arab world last June. The climate is more favorable for diplomacy. So be it. Meanwhile, since the beginning of Obama’s administration in January 2009, outstanding issues still await resolution.
On November 18th, the president recognized over NBC airwaves that Guantanamo prison cannot be closed as planned by January 2010. Remember that it was, nevertheless, a key issue of his 2008 presidential campaign. As for the thorny issue of climate change, it would be a miracle if the Copenhagen Summit planned for December built significantly upon the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol.
Evidently, the U.S. is not responsible for the lack of willpower on the part of certain rogue states (among them Canada), but by the immense power they exercise over the international arena, they hold a duty to persuade.
And what of the military intentions of this new Nobel Peace Prize winner? We must rejoice over the announcement of the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 (which the Iraqi government confirmed on November 15th). However, this decision masks the intention to intervene more forcefully in Afghanistan.
Recently, Obama declared the deployment of 30,000 additional troops on Afghan soil was necessary to finish the job. Before “finishing the job,” would it not be necessary to first define clearly the objectives of this mission, which is sinking into a veritable quagmire? The chaos of the Afghan elections of last August clearly shows a country prone to disorganization and corruption. Is the situation really worse than before the beginning of the occupation of the country in 2001? It is difficult to tell, but it is undoubtedly not any better - neither in regard to security nor the condition of women.
In choosing the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2009, the Nobel Committee made a political move. The symbolic weight accompanying this prize is immense.
From now on, Barack Obama must reconcile his antinomian roles as commander-in-chief of the armies of this country and as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only do immense responsibilities weigh upon him at a turning point of human history, but the wind of "Hope" which blew him into power has made of him a superhero that History will not fail to judge severely. Therefore, it is imperative that he break with this bellicose legacy that his predecessors left him. All of his credibility depends on it.
Edited by Patricia Simoni